There’s a “new” alternative medicine on the block called float therapy. This method of deep relaxation has been used since the 1950’s, but is still slowly beginning to bob its way to the surface of popular meditative practices. We researched it and tried it to find out if it’s really worth your time and money.
What exactly is it?
It’s a small pool, or many times a tank, that you lie in for 1 – 2 hours. It’s filled with about a foot of water and 1,000 lbs of dissolved epsom salt to give the body a weightless buoyancy.
What are its benefits?
il dolce far niente
That’s Italian for “the sweetness of doing nothing”. Nothing is as close as it gets to what one does in a typical float therapy session – unless you are a true ADHD candidate and you use the hour allotted to swim and bounce around as much as the closed walls allow you to, like you’re an astronaut feeling the lack of gravity for the first time.
But, if you do this therapy the “normal way”, you lie there, closed off from the world. Closed off from the buzz, the e-mails, the relationship drama, a haunting past, an anxiety ridden future, or whatever it might be that’s clouding your mind in the present. It’s just you and your uninterrupted thoughts that you’re forced to confront and work through. And, as Modest Mouse would say, “we’ll all float on okay.”
Some float tanks are also known as sensory deprivation tanks.
If you’re looking for something a little more engaging then check out our article on Shape House, an urban sweat lodge in LA.
Sensory Deprivation (n): a process by which someone is deprived of normal external stimuli such as sight and sound for an extended period of time, especially as an experimental technique in psychology.
Many float tanks are known to offer that complete darkness and silence and some float therapy labs are known for regularly serving veterans suffering from PTSD.
Others are a bit more spa like, offering scented candles and calming music in a more open setting.
It genuinely works for some. Though, others might say… well, you can do this “nothing” thing anywhere, right? Why pay $30 – $60 to do nothing in a salt filled mini pool? What’s so special about this salt? What kind of Harry Potter sorcery am I floating in?
What’s up with Epsom Salt?
First of all, it’s not actually salt. It’s a naturally occurring pure mineral compound of magnesium and sulfate.
Lying in a heavy concentration of the magnesium and sulfate for an extended period of time has shown many positive results for the body…
According to the research at Salt Works:
“Studies have shown that magnesium and sulfate are both readily absorbed through the skin, making Epsom salt baths an easy and ideal way to enjoy the associated health benefits. Magnesium plays a number of roles in the body including regulating the activity of over 325 enzymes, reducing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function, and helping to prevent artery hardening. Sulfates help improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins, and help ease migraine headaches. In addition, the magnesium helps to produce serotonin, a mood-elevating chemical within the brain that creates a feeling of calm and relaxation.”
So is it worth it?
For many yes, it’s awesome. For some, like myself, I found the closed walls and dark tank to be a bit claustrophobic and I’d rather get my meditation out elsewhere. I think what happened was that my brain naturally drew a connection to Epson printers, because of the similarity in spelling. I couldn’t stop imagining myself being shrunk and put into an ink box in a printer, floating around in the ink that was going to eventually turn me into the words of a book or something. My mind then trailed to what kind of book genre I would be if I were a book… I’m not going to tell you the answer to that, which should draw you to the conclusion that I’d be a mystery novel… or would I? Anyway, if there’s one good thing, it did boost my creativity like many places claim that float therapy does and I did find the floating a bit fun.
So is it for everyone? Maybe not. But, like almost anything, it’s worth giving a try. And, many have said that once they try it for a second time, they begin to rid of the claustrophobia and feel the benefits.